Category Archives: Public Figure

Mohammed Assaf THE Arab Idol

 

Assaf

 

Mohammed Assaf is not merely the Palestinian\Gazan who won Arab Idol. No my friends, he isn’t just that, he is now a symbol. He’s a symbol for everything that we Palestinians stand for. A symbol of hope, love, survival, steadfastness and a symbol of what an honest competition is or should be like. Through his voice, his strong confident voice he reached the hearts of all Palestinians all over the world, the hearts of all people all over the world even, if it’s safe to say! Through his voice he united us, he united Palestine and Palestinians together. We all voted for him, we all cheered for him and we all “ a’aleena al kufyya.”

Yesterday, June 22nd 2013 – yes I have marked the date on my calendar and so should you- yesterday was the happiest day Palestine ever witnessed in 66 years. Ever. As soon as Annabella Hilal the presenter of Arab Idol announced “Mohammed Assaf” the winner people cheered their lungs out, god knows I did! The streets were jammed with cars waving the Palestinian flag, car horns wouldn’t stop making noisy, random happy beeps you wouldn’t actually figure out whether a car was beeping at you to move your car away or if it was just beeping the happy beeps all cars were beeping, fireworks were all over the sky that I think we may have harmed the Ozone layer! Children were happy as they could even be, I saw children dancing in the streets, cheering Mohammed Assaf’s last name and even some were poking their heads out of the cars’ windows carrying pictures of Assaf. I mean it was 12:00am and the sky and the spirit and the ecstatic vibe which filled Gaza made it feel like it was noon. Gaza was genuinely happy, we really needed this. Gaza was the definition and incarnation of the word “Happiness.” We could have never been more proud. Ever since he auditioned for the show and we have been living the Palestinian dream, and yesterday it came true.

So congratulations a thousand times more to Mohammed Assaf  the face of Palestine.

 

assaf

 

FW  asaf  ppl

peeps  20130623_000428  strts  assaf  20130622_224256

 

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Let The Bad Times Roll

They say when it rains it pours. I guess that idiom sums up my article today, because in the past couple of weeks Gaza had the privilege of setting this idiom on motion.

It all began with a beautiful sunny Sunday morning May 6th the first day of the “Palestine Festival of  Literature 2012.” A group of remarkable Arab and Palestinian writers came to Gaza carrying nothing but sheer excitement of entering Gaza for the first time in their lives, books and a desire to symbolically break the siege. The PalFest events and workshops took place from May 6th up to May 9th. I attended most of the events, and I can now say that the 6th, 7th and 8th of May were the best days of my life, so far. Meeting all these writers and Egyptian activists was overwhelming. They felt very close. I felt like I’ve seen them before and that I knew them already.

    

Specially Dr. Ahdaf Soueif I don’t think I will ever meet a woman as beautiful, as calm, as wise, as sweet, as kind, as loving as her. There is something about her that makes you just love her. Selma Dabbagh who is a British Palestinian writer the one with the “meticulous” handwriting -as she described it when she wrote me an autograph- the minute I spoke with her I felt like she was a friend of mine, the way she talks is so casual that you can’t help but feel like she’s your friend. 

   

As for the wisely impulsive, dynamic, energetic and out-spoken-never-mind-the-consequences person of all -that would be Alaa Abd El Fattah, (an Egyptian blogger and activist) He always spoke with such passion that made you just want to get up shout out and go make a revolution (believe me I thought about it). His energy is infectious and he consumes your thoughts.

Another person that I will never forget is, Amr Ezzat who is also an Egyptian blogger and activist. He was the philosophical, candid and astute guy of the group. He’s the kind of guy that knows what to say and when, seriously, the guy knows when and how to hit!

  

And who can forget Eskenderella band! They gave us something different to the usual -Something we rarely experience here in Gaza. They gave us a true Egyptian “Tarab.” Their concert was the concert to remember. Perfect. 

    

PalFest would have been the best thing that ever happened to Gaza for years now if not for what happened in the last day. A misfortune I would call it. Regardless, I think I would be speaking for all when I say that their very existence in Gaza and the fact that they even thought of making the festival in Gaza this year meant a lot to us. It got us out of the solitary confinement that we were living in, the feeling that we are isolated and we never get to be mentioned but in bad-NEWS-channels. They left a mark on each and every one of us I will never forget them and I will never forget the beautiful days I spent with them. I was deeply sad the day they left and I just can’t wait for the day they decide to come back for a visit again. Now we are back on the island of isolation, again!

After the incident that happened in the last day of the festival, it was downhill from there on. Because then  the condition of 8 of the Palestinian prisoners who were on a hunger strike defying the inhumane treatment they are being treated within Israeli prisons intensified. Two of them were believed to be close to death, and the rest were in a critical condition. But now the situation is a little bit alleviated and they did get some of their rights, which is not even close to enough. Freedom is “the enough” we need. A hint of justice is never enough.

And then, the 15th of May the day that commemorates Nakba or  “Day of the Catastrophe.” The catastrophe that befell us Palestinians in 1948. On this day, thousands of Palestinians organized demonstrations in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and they all resulted in clashes with Israeli troops and police who fired tear gas, metal pellets and rubber bullets at the protesters in an attempt to break up the demonstrations.

    

My “Translation 101” teacher once translated “when it rains it pours to us” as..

Lamma ttayyen bt.tayyen   “لما تطين بتطين”

Which basically means when things go wrong, a lot of things go wrong at the same time.  I could have never come up with a better translation or even a better description for all this.

ps. You can follow the hastags #PalHunger #PalFestGaza and  #Nakba for more information.


The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini

There is a thing my mind always does deliberately when I read good novels and that is Imagining. I get so entangled in the novel that I visualize it all, characters, sitting everything. As long as there is a good detailed description, there would be a good detailed visualization. Now I don’t know if that’s a good thing or if I’m just crazy or overdo reading novels but I like it. I would be reading a novel and watching it simultaneously. Crazy? Maybe. I like it.

Yesterday I finished reading “The Kite Runner” by Khalid Hosseini.

The novel is about a 12 year old boy who continued to remain a trapped, guilty, tormented 12 year old boy until he reached 39 years old, where he finally became a free man. Free from his haunting past and free from his self-destructive self.

To me reading that novel was like reading a motion picture or more like watching a movie and all those written lines were just a subtitle. He profusely detailed details of details that forced you to see everything. And you know what, the novel was a motion picture and surely turned you into one. I found myself many times “laughing through my nose, shrugging, raising one eye brow, making tsk tsk sounds and shaking my head.” And because of the intriguingly appalling changes in the course of events and the continual shocks the author kept slapping my face with, it all made me reflect everything on my face. My face was the mirror reflection of the novel. I was Wide eyed in astonishment a 100 times, I gasped as much as I could remember, I shed a tear or two, I was angry all the time at Amir “the hero” I cursed him, wrote Facebook status against him, and he made me throw the novel as hard as I could over his cowardice and genuine fear.

I Liked…

What I liked most about the author is that he never threw a detail for nothing. Every single detail is carefully studied and carefully placed. His details always stood for something, If not in the chapter you’re reading it’s in the next if not the next it will inevitably hit you in the end and leave you with a “DAMN!”

I liked the little reminders Hosseini kept brushing up our memories with and how he linked them with what is happening. And how his reminders were put in a way that made you always say  “aaaaah yes yes I remember!!”

I liked the characterization of Amir. How he turned from a self-centered coward kid whose only concern was to get his father’s attention to a well-educated boy who followed his dream of being a writer yet still a coward then a lover who loved so purely and silently then a half coward who almost died saving his niece and at the end A man.

I likeed that, if there is a dramatic scene, it wholeheartedly is a dramatic scene. You would see it everywhere: the pathetic fallacy, the use of words, the punctuation, the full stops and the sad personifications. You would almost feel like the pages you are reading are dim and embittered! And believe me if you saw yourself while reading those sadness-infused pages you would see it reflected on your face with a frown or with crossed eyebrows.
My favorite scene in which I was frowning with a beating heart was the one when Amir was waiting for news about Sohrab when he was at surgery. You know, the only thing lacking about me reading that part was a good background music! I would have picked  “I’m Alive by Hans Zimmer” Pearl Harbor soundrack totally suits the situation! 

If there was something that I didn’t like in the novel it is that Amir kept calling America his “Home” and kept filling the little kid (Sohrab) with promises of the American dream, and what I didn’t like most was how “Hazara’s” were treated with such inhumanity.

After reading the novel I closed the book and found myself falling into a trance. A trance of thoughts, a trance of clichés! I learned from the novel a good number of clichés. That I rather not mention.

 


I rest my case

 

The electricity crisis in Gaza is fierce, malignant and it keeps getting worse day by day. Like cancer. It keeps spreading and getting worse. At first this “cancer” was benign just 6 hours a day, we coped. But then it became 8 hours a day, we tried to cope. Then we prepared ourselves for the worst which is 12 hours a day. When that happened, the situation called for one thing. Chemo therapy. Unfortunately chemo did not work, because along with the power cuts came the problem of the lack of gasoline which was starting our generators everyday escaping this problem. And now we reached the fourth stage of cancer – the inoperable stage 16 hours a day. No electricity and No generators.

What should we do to solve this ongoing ever growing disease? It’s a disease that we gotta fight back, anyway. How are we going to do that?

I thought to myself, what should one do these days to be heard?

should one be a “Justin Bieber” so they can trend everyday worldwide on twitter?
“oh he’s 18”
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEIEBER”
High five to all beliebers

Or should one be a-famous-for-nothing celebrity like “kim kardashian” so our pictures would be all over facebook?

“what do you think of kim kardashian’s dress? Hot or Not?”

“Fashion inspiration ❤ kim kardashian”

The world is changing. The world is sick. The world has got an incurable cancer.

I rest my case.


“I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Al Barghouti

It’s pitch black. I am in my room, alone. Touching through my stuff searching for my book-light, trying to remember where i last put it and after hitting and touching everything in my room but it, i finally found it . I lit it then pinned it to the book I was about to read. Now all I can see is the book I’m holding in my hands. Armed with a marker, a pencil and my favorite tea mug, I started reading the Arabic version of “I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Al Barghouti.

Once I started reading Edward Said’s forward to the book, I was emotionally and mentally engaged. My eyes were racing my silent reading lips, eager to reach the next line and read more about the book. When it was finished I pondered for a second thinking how could I have spent all this time not reading this book?

I started reading the first chapter….

A profound sense of transcendentalism merged me with the lines. I was not in my room, the electricity was not off, but I was alone. It was just me, me and the author Mourdi Al Barghouti. Yes, Mourid Al Barghouti was with me. He did not see me, but I indeed saw him. Now he’s on “the bridge” I can see him, the vision is a bit blurry but I see him. He’s now walking briskly towards “the Palestinian” end of the bridge. His heart is beating, so is mine. He crossed the bridge, so did I. Now we are in a room. I’m looking about me and all I’m seeing is what he’s seeing. His eyes were mine. For a fraction of a second I really did feel that I was there. Everywhere he goes. I was not a mere reader reading a book. I was a character in the book, watching everything silently from far beyond except, I was “omniscient.” I was the only one able to see through the authors mind.

Now we are in Ramallah. A mixture of emotions. I have never been to Ramallah so I was looking so much forward to reaching the part where he goes there so I could form a picture of it in my mind. I did form a picture. But not the one I thought I would have. He talked of settlements and soldiers and endless checkpoints and Israeli flags everywhere. He was disappointed. And I was even more.

Once he reached his village “Deir Ghassaneh” in Ramallah and then his home there “Dar Ra’ad”  I formed a replicate of everything in my mind. I was able to see Dar Ra’ad, I saw the rooms, the furniture, the trees (especially the fig tree) I even met the people. His family, his friends, his relatives, his neighbors. It was beautiful.

I cried so much, I smiled/laughed so often and I was embittered so many a times. I am not a refugee, but for a fraction of a second I was one. Or even, I wished I were one.

I read a good number of books which some I described to my friends as “a page turner.” I guess I never knew the real meaning of  it till I read “I Saw Ramallah.” 

After reading this book, I can say that this book changed me. I’m not the same person I was. I don’t know how to explain it. But I have changed.

I slept thinking of the book, that I actually dreamt that I went to Ramallah and then to Jerusalem. In my dream I was in a bus with approximately 50 people, all heading to Ramallah and Jerusalem. They were all strangers to me. And they even seemed strangers to each other! but that did not stop them from talking to each other exchanging laughter. All I saw was old buildings and cars and lots and lots of people. Suddenly, I saw the Dome of the Rock from far away but the bus did not go its way. My eyes were fixed on the Dome of the Rock the second it appeared. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter. A voice shouted “people we are not allowed to enter Jerusalem.”

 Ironic right? To not be able to enter your own Capital city even in your dreams! My dreams are rebelling against me. But why? Our dreams always makes our dreams come true. They take us where we really want to go but can’t and have us meet and converse with people we die to “see”. Our dreams sometimes inspire us to write, to solve problems or even to stand up to someone or something. But again, why? Is it because I’m a Palestinian so I am bound to “Not Be Allowed” to enter Jerusalem even in my dreams? My dreams are rebelling against me and I shall rebel against them. I will keep on dreaming. And one day, just one magical day… it should happen but in this “one day” it won’t be a single bus carrying 50 people…

 


Drones are not an option

Gazangly speaking, I like the roaring of the F16s better than the buzzing of the drones. I mean the F16s just pass by they don’t stick around buzzing nonstop driving everybody crazy. And you know what, F16s sound like PHHHEEEWWwww… and that would be it, gone. Unlike drones. Drones my friend are different and not just any “different” they are “hostile different.” They go like DRRRRRrrrrrrrRRR!! Yes our drones don’t simply buzz “ZZZzz” they are more advanced. They DRR. I guess it’s because we are special people! ergo we get the special stuff. Drones don’t stop for gas, they don’t get rusty and the dude behind them doesn’t get a lunch break or break at all, so I think it’s safe to say that we are endowed with “full option” drones. We’re damn lucky! [sounds like an add.!]

Anyway, you know what I like most about drones? They deliver! They do their jobs hetero-perfectly, that no matter what you do: shut the windows, suffocate yourself with your billow, kill yourself, watch a movie (if you ever could! Because they distort the signal) or even drug yourself to sleep they would be there faithfully drring your head off! Actually if you did get lucky and slept at night, Guess what.. they pop in your dreams “Whoops where do you think you’re going? You can sleep but you can’t get deaf Drrrr!” and let’s face it we can’t just walk around all day with our headphones on! We gotta give our ears some rest! Hear that drones “A REST.”

Drones brought out all sorts of creativity in all people around Gaza. Some people discovered they can write, others found out that they can be real good photographers, others reviled their hidden poetry writing skills, others thought they should sign up for the next season of the X Factor because they figured out that they can actually holler! Sorry I mean sing and the others tweeted about it. You can check the hashtags #GazaMovies #DronesTaughMe #Drones  

So as long as “BIG BROTHER IS DRONING US”, drring all day long and night “especially night” we aint sleepin’ and we aint dreamin’ of sleepin’ and for that I would like to seize this opportunity and declare a sleeping strike! I will not sleep until those drones go away. Who’s with me? Gazans, puh-lease.. don’t kid yourselves, you all are in whether you like it or not! It’s not an option really.


“OBL Killed in Abbottabad”

I don’t intend in this blog to express my opinion about Osama Bin Laden’s murder..

To be honest, the first thing that ever came to my mind when i heard the news of Bin Laden’s operation other than the absolute and utter shock was “The daily show” and what Jon Stewart is going to say about it. So, the next day and as soon as i saw that the episode was uploaded to show’s website i watched it with high expectations that it’s going to be a real LOL sarcastic episode, and yep i was right, indeedy. It is absolutely, undoubtedly funny that i watched it twice. Although i don’t really agree with a lot of what he said, or the American ego which was like the theme of the episode yet, it is still hilarious. So here is a link to the episode in case you’ve missed it..

ENJOY..

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-may-2-2011/big-deady